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Reader Writer Runner (Victoria, BC)
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Construction
Construction
by Sally Sutton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 13.00
32 used & new from CDN$ 6.50

4.0 out of 5 stars Story Time Again..., Oct. 3 2014
This review is from: Construction (Hardcover)
Following their rhythmic hits "Roadwork" and "Demolition," Sutton and Lovelock have returned with a new combination of dynamic text and colourful illustrations for little builders.

From breaking ground to the the final coat of paint, "Construction" describes workers erecting a new mystery building from the ground up. As usual, Sutton’s words briskly pulsate: “Dig the ground. Dig the ground. Bore down in the mud” and fun, read-aloud onomatopoeia rounds out each stanza: "Slip! SLAP! THUD!” Bold pictures convey the effort and the machinery required to lift stacks of lumber and position sheets of glass. Lovelock shows people of all demographics working on the site and she changes perspective constantly, allowing readers to look down from above the scene or to crouch low to look up at the machines.

The rhymes of "Construction" may not sound quite as smooth as those of its predecessors but the book has a satisfying ending: the reveal of a library..."Ready…STEADY…READ!”

Edge of Eternity: Book Three of The Century Trilogy
Edge of Eternity: Book Three of The Century Trilogy
by Ken Follett
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 26.33
47 used & new from CDN$ 14.63

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts..., Oct. 1 2014
Nothing says "epic" quite like a Ken Follett novel...except possibly three Ken Follett novels. Indeed, the final book in Follett's trans-global Century Trilogy satisfyingly completes a magnificent, multi-generational saga that comes with a captivating cast of hundreds. The series began with "Fall of Giants," set in the early decades of the 20th century, transitioned into the upheaval of WWII in "Winter of the World" and here, in "Edge of Eternity," moves inexorably into the Cold War and the turbulent civil rights movement of the 1960s. Throughout, the reader follows five families spread across Europe and America. Some enjoy freedom and some fight oppression, but all interconnect through momentous events.

In 1961, the corridors of power realize their ability to bring the world to the brink of oblivion. At the same time in Communist Berlin, teacher Rebecca Hoffmann gets called in for questioning by the Stasi, East Germany’s feared secret police. There, she learns that Hans, her husband of just one year, works as an undercover agent for the Stasi and married her only to spy on her. Hurt and angry, Rebecca holds the death of Communism as her highest hope but her actions now will have dangerous repercussions for her family, especially her musician brother Walli who longs to escape across the Berlin Wall to Britain to become part of the burgeoning music scene.

In the United States, George Jakes, a bright young mixed-race lawyer in JFK's administration, fiercely supports the civil rights movement and shares his passion with the love of his life, Verena, who works for Martin Luther King. When the two board a Greyhound bus in Washington on a Freedom Ride to the Deep South to protest segregation, they begin a fateful journey that will change their lives forever.

Meanwhile, in Soviet Russia, activist Tania Dvorkin narrowly evades capture for producing an illegal news sheet. as her twin brother, Dimka, rises in the heart of President Nikita Khrushchev’s Communist Party in the Kremlin. Dimka becomes a key player in the perilous nuclear stand-off between the Soviet Union and the United States while TASS news agency reporter Tania takes to Siberia, Cuba, Poland and beyond.

As ever, Follett uses meticulous and exhaustive research for his wide canvas, seamlessly weaving fact and fiction and encompassing everything from the birth of Rock and Roll to the fall of the Berlin Wall. He firmly places humanity in history and captures the cataclysmic 20th century through the eyes of extraordinary people who fight for justice, negotiate change and struggle to comprehend the future.

A factual lesson from a master of fiction, "Edge of Eternity" provides a satisfying, gripping and moving finale to a superbly imagined series.

The Children Act
The Children Act
by Ian McEwan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.77
9 used & new from CDN$ 10.99

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts..., Oct. 1 2014
This review is from: The Children Act (Hardcover)
When the profound and brilliant Ian McEwan releases a new novel, I dive into it with excitement and high expectations. Though I've suffered the occasional disappointment, "The Children Act" showcases McEwan's talent; it provides a meticulous yet emotional example of how a law can hurt those its meant to help. It also asks the difficult question: to what extent can one determine the best outcome for a child?

A few months shy of his 18th birthday, Adam suffers from leukaemia and needs a blood transfusion to survive. However, as a devout Jehovah's Witness, he and his parents refuse the treatment. High Court judge Fiona Maye must make a ruling: force Adam to accept the transfusion or allow him to die. Visiting Adam in hospital, Fiona witnesses his articulacy and intelligence but she must set aside her own emotions, painfully aware that she represents a secular institution at the polar opposite from that of Adam's family.

McEwan describes Fiona with such intensity that she seems to inhabit another world. She lives with her husband, Jack, in a haven of elegance and culture composed of academics, music, fine coffee and soirees. But even the opening page shows fault lines in their 30-year marriage with which Fiona must grapple while calibrating legal arguments that affect lives such as Adam's.

McEwan portrays the workings of a court and a judge's life with the thoroughness of a devoted researcher. And, as the novel's narrative tension rises, he vividly relates Fiona's conscious dispassion. Finally, beneath the drama of Adam's story, he threads an undercurrent of distaste for selfishness; the cool personality that distinguishes Fiona briefly takes a back seat to a blaze of passion and irrationality, setting the novel alight.

True, "The Children Act" at times reads like an exercise in ethical quandaries or perhaps as a short novel claustrophobically enveloped in legalities. Ultimately, thought, readers can admire McEwan's flawless execution of a clever idea and appreciate his skill in capturing the mood of our morally complex times.

Vancouver Island Imagine
Vancouver Island Imagine
by Peter Grant
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.40
27 used & new from CDN$ 12.41

4.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts..., Sept. 22 2014
Best selling author Peter Grant wanted to make his new book "about the people." Thus, he partnered with North Island College photography professor, Boomer Jerritt, whose images centre around human subjects, to create a kind of archive that lives and breathes Island life.

"Vancouver Island: Imagine" will not appeal only to tourists; it will not just attract locals. Anyone who appreciates the beauty of the Island will appreciate this book and its accompanying website (vancouverislandimagine.ca), where one can read commentary from both Grant and Jerritt about their work and life.

Part historical log, part travel information pamphlet, part photo essay, this book makes a welcome addition to any Island lover's coffee table.

What I Know For Sure
What I Know For Sure
by Oprah Winfrey
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 17.68
40 used & new from CDN$ 11.18

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts..., Sept. 19 2014
This review is from: What I Know For Sure (Hardcover)
Whether through her 25-year talk show, her book club, her magazine or her TV network, everybody knows the name Oprah. And most associate the name with generosity of spirit and life lessons. Indeed, her new book compiles previously published columns of O Magazine from the section called "What I Know For Sure" and covers everything from reflecting on an inspiring poem to reliving painful adolescent memories.

In 1998, film critic Gene Siskel asked Oprah "what she knew for sure," a question that left her speechless and became a driving force in her life. Throughout the book, Oprah displays her unique way of both turning seemingly minor events into "aha" moments and relating her core values to provide daily affirmation. Far from generic positive mantras, the lessons she offers can apply to anyone from any walk of life; she does not propose the revolutionary but reminds us of the things we take for granted. Finally, snippets of Oprah's conversations with figures like Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama and Maya Angelou enhance the collection.

Ultimately, Oprah succeeds in conveying her creed: "What you put out comes back all the time, no matter what."

Bunner's Bake Shop Cookbook
Bunner's Bake Shop Cookbook
by Ashley M Wittig
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.67
6 used & new from CDN$ 9.17

4.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts..., Sept. 17 2014
As vegans, Toronto residents Ashley Wittig and Kevin MacAllister understand the feeling of exclusion at the table. They also sympathize with those with food allergies, sensitivities or other dietary restrictions. Thus, they started Bunner's Bake Shop together as a table at farmers' markets, selling gluten-, egg-, dairy-, nut- and soy-free baked goods. Realizing they had a brisk business, they opened a bakery in The Junction neighbourhood of Toronto's west end. In their first cookbook, the pair share traditional recipes made with non-traditional ingredients and prove that everything from cinnamon buns to mac and cheese can taste delicious with a few substitutions.

The authors devote an entire chapter to holiday favourites with recipes for Pumpkin Pie, Gingerbread, Sugar Cookies and Savoury Holiday Stuffing. Canadian mainstays such as Nanaimo Bars, Butters Tarts and Blueberry Grunt also make an appearance as do a host of muffins, cookies, cakes and pies. For readers new to gluten-free, vegan baking, Bunner's proves that it’s not as difficult as people expect. In fact, in many ways gluten-free flours are more forgiving; after all, one needn't worry about overworking pastry dough.

Wittig and MacAllister may ostensibly advertise specific brands but they do stress that they have "tried everything” to achieve the best result. If they tout Bob’s Red Mill, Camino or Earth Balance, it’s because they’ve had genuine success with it. Ultimately, Bunner's produces treats that invoke pride and defy excuses, ones that taste delicious and classic to anyone regardless of dietary needs.

Sweet: Our Best Cupcakes, Cookies, Candy, and More
Sweet: Our Best Cupcakes, Cookies, Candy, and More
by Editors of Food Network Magazine
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 18.77
36 used & new from CDN$ 18.77

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts..., Sept. 17 2014
Don't let the kitchy cover of "Sweet" fool you; this comprehensive baking book contains no tinned pie filling, no pre-made tart shells and no aerosol whipping cream. Recipes occasionally call for standards like frozen phyllo dough but the majority start from scratch and contain clear, simple instructions that any home baker can master. Each recipe starts with a bit of advice and uses ingredients readily found in most grocery stores.

Chapters include Cupcakes & Whoopie Pies, Cookies & Bars, Candy & Snacks, Pies & Crumbles, Fake-Out Cakes, Show-Off Cakes, Frozen Treats, and Holiday Desserts; each has an astounding variety of recipes from the traditional to the more exotic. Every chapter also features a "twists" page; a basic whoopie pie recipe, for example, turns into numerous desserts with flavour additions and variations. Additionally, the book contains several fun projects: a "fake-out" cake that looks like a bowl of guacamole an an edible tree made of sour tape, gummy spearmint leaves and gummy dots. The book definitely falls short on substitutions for specialty diets, however; neither vegan-friendly nor gluten-free recipes get much real estate.

Most remarkably for such a large book, a beautiful colour photo accompanies each and every recipe. Both the table of contents and the index also include photos for easy reference and, finally, the book has an amazing reference page on tinting icing. Start with a bowl of white frosting, add the specified combination of standard food colouring drops and achieve every colour from forest green to cotton candy.

An excellent, all-encompassing book for the avid baker.

Tiny House Living: Ideas For Building and Living Well In Less than 400 Square Feet
Tiny House Living: Ideas For Building and Living Well In Less than 400 Square Feet
by Ryan Mitchell
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 18.80
28 used & new from CDN$ 18.80

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts..., Sept. 12 2014
Want to spend less time and money on home maintenance? Live mortgage-free and face lower taxes? Have the freedom to travel and pursue hobbies? Most North Americans, says Ryan Mitchell, spend much of their lives chasing the dream of large home ownership only to compromise their savings, health and leisure. In his new book, "Tiny House Living," Mitchell asserts that living smaller can reap big rewards.

"Tiny House Living" begins by defining what constitutes a "tiny" house: generally fewer than 400 square feet. However, Mitchell makes it clear that area matters less than than sensibility; living small rejects consumer culture and the "bigger is better" mindset. Mitchell continues by examining the types of people to whom tiny houses appeal (commonly retirees and young professionals) and then presents eleven case studies based on his interviews with tiny house owners/builders. He shares their insights, successes and challenges and includes wonderful photographs of the completed homes, both inside and out.

The book ends with a comprehensive list of blogs (his own included), websites, and other resources for those considering a tiny home project. A highly recommended introduction for those considering a smaller and better life!

Is That a Fact?
Is That a Fact?
by Dr. Joe Schwarcz
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.96
31 used & new from CDN$ 11.26

4.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts..., Sept. 11 2014
This review is from: Is That a Fact? (Paperback)
How do we know what we know? Scientific knowledge depends on ever-accumulating, ever-changing evidence; hence, we have varying degrees of certainty about different topics. In "Is That A Fact?", McGill professor and famous pseudo-science debunker, Joe Schwarcz, discusses the black, the gray and the white of prevalent "scientific" claims.

Beginning with an overview of quackery, Dr. Joe humorously recounts a meeting with an intuitive healer who told him she could “see” that his body was infested with worms, bacteria, mushrooms and viruses. He goes on to attack bogus cancer cures, double helix water and homeopathy before moving into the gray areas. Schwarcz contends that these claims, including the benefits of fish oil supplements and the dangers of pesticides, have some merit but he does critique the studies on which the claims are based. Finally, he covers the chemical bad guys like BPA and PVC and discusses why they don't worry him.

"Is That A Fact?" both informs and delights the reader. Throughout his lucid 4-5 page snippets, Dr. Joe interweaves chemistry with medicine, critical thinking and the scientific method. He sheds much-needed light on controversial topics and humorously rebuts money-hungry celebrity "experts."

The Sobo Cookbook: Recipes from the Tofino Restaurant at the End of the Canadian Road
The Sobo Cookbook: Recipes from the Tofino Restaurant at the End of the Canadian Road
by Lisa Ahier
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 18.77
33 used & new from CDN$ 4.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts..., Sept. 11 2014
In her forward, Sarah McLachlan names SoBo as one of her favourite restaurants. She writes, “I know this book will become a staple in my kitchen – a way to bring SoBo to me when I cannot get to Tofino and eat at the restaurant itself." How's that for a ringing endorsement? Indeed, this cookbook, hailing from the remote and rugged west coast of Vancouver Island, emphasizes local, seasonal ingredients and casually elegant cuisine.

Short for Sophisticated Bohemian, SoBo began in 2003 as a food truck before moving to a local botanical garden and finally to its current location in downtown Tofino. Here, husband and wife team Artie and Lisa Ahier tell the story of SoBo while paying homage to the region; vignettes of text detail each season in Tofino and anecdotes describe the restaurant's favourite farmers and fishermen.

The vividly photographed 100 recipes highlight the Ahiers' substance-before-style philosophy and encompass every category from breakfast to soups, snacks, mains and desserts. Start the day with flaxseed and ginger pancakes or strawberry lemon scones, then move into crab and goat cheese wontons or scallops with sweet pea risotto cakes. No matter which you choose, these simple but refined recipes will please both eyes and tastebuds.

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